Handmade jewelry is vastly superior to machine made. Here are five reasons why
By Chere Di Boscio
When you think handmade jewelry, images of woven string friendship bracelets or rough crystals on a string may come to mind. But the truth is, much fine jewelry is made this way too.
In fact, artisanal fine jewelry is exploding in popularity right now. Artisans are making bespoke pieces in sheds and workshops all over the world, providing customers with one-of-a-kind pieces that are only beautiful, but (if it’s made from solid gold or silver), is an excellent investment in these uncertain times, too.
The skills required to work with metal take years to learn, and require talent. So it’s no wonder that more jewelry is being made by machines. But handmade jewelry is different. It has qualities that cannot be replicated in factories. It’s special. It’s artisanal. Handmade jewelry matters – for lots of reasons. Here are a few.
Why Handmade Jewelry Matters
Tradition jewellers believe that the way to sell more products is to make them as symmetrical as possible. Consequently, the jewelry industry uses precision-guided machinery to create the cookie-cutter style items you most frequently find in shops. Aesthetically, they can achieve extremely precise results…but there’s something a bit clinical about it. It all looks – and feels – too perfect. Mass-produced.
With handmade jewelry, it’s entirely different. They barely make use of any machines at all. Instead, you can actually see the handiwork that has gone into each unit, with the full talent of the creator on display. Each item is unique. And so, each item is more exclusive.
Handmade jewellery has another advantage: it tends to be a lot more affordable than its mass-produced siblings. It may seem odd, given the fact that it takes more time and effort to create handmade jewelry, but the truth is such manufacturers often have considerably lower overheads, meaning that they don’t need to pass those costs onto the customer.
Mass jewelry makers, on the other hand, have huge expenses, from factory overheads to marketing professionals, IT staff and administrators. These costs soon add up, making the price of some store-bought items exceptionally high – even when the same quality materials are used as artisanal producers.
With hand crafted items, you immediately sidestep these issues. Usually, it is a lone jeweler working quietly in a workshop to create beautiful pieces to order. Because they’re solo, they don’t face the same kind of expenses as their mainstream commercial competitors. And that allows them to get their prices down dramatically.
Custom Made Beauty
Jewellery should always carry a highly personal meaning. Whether it’s your grandmother’s ring that you wear on a chain, or a special piece made just for you, it should offer more than simply being a pretty accessory.
You can easily commission an artisan jeweler to create something infused with meaning, designed specially for your style and needs. Not only will you have a unique design, but the heart and soul of the craftsman will be in the item, too.
This concept of deep, intimate personal meaning is particularly seen in the cremation jewelry market. It’s incredible that today, you can remember a loved one in this completely unique manner; you can keep them close to you, always. And you won’t find that kind of sentiment in anything mass produced, obviously!
Jewelry artisans can also transform an old piece of jewelry or its components into something more modern and wearable. This means not only is handmade jewelry more personal, but it’s also more sustainable, as we will learn more about below.
Supporting Artisanal Traditions
Of course, the people making your jewelry count, and small, handmade jewelry companies often employ artisans keeping gold and silversmithing traditions alive.
Take Pippa Small, for example. This internationally renowned jewelry designer works closely with arts foundation Turquoise Mountain in Kabul, Afghanistan and in Myanmar to revive traditional goldsmithing work, and provides training and employment opportunities for the next generation in handcrafted jewelry creation.
In 2018, Pippa visited Jordan, and fell in love with the country and the people living there. She is now working on collections incorporating ancient motifs from the Middle East with Jordanian goldsmiths and refugees from the troubled region. She has founded a training programme there, in conjunction with Turquoise Mountain, to help bring more work to those in desperate need of it.
Pippa has also worked extensively with the goldsmiths and stone cutters of Rajasthan, inspired by the immense creativity of the artisans and the diverse flora and fauna and landscapes in the region.
You won’t find the tradition, mystery and beauty of work created by such artisans in any factory made jewelry! And what’s more, there’s no guarantee the workers who create such jewelry are paid a fair wage, as is nearly always the case with artisanal brands such as Pippa’s.
The Sustainability Factor
Many people would like to see the world leave mass production behind and move back towards the small-scale production of the past. Large companies tend to have a negative effect on the environment, whereas small workshops barely make an impact.
Artisan jewellers tend to use materials as sparingly as possible – and often, these are recycled. They often take a lot of pride in their work and the help that they provide the environment. Buyers who care about green issues get benefits too because they can make more sustainable choices.
Handcrafted options tend to use up fewer resources. There are no expensive machines, slurping up energy from the mains. And producers tend to sell to local markets, reducing transport costs.
Despite the rise in AI production of all fashion accessories, there’s no doubt that handcrafted jewellery is here to say. It offers a host of advantages over the traditional variety, making it increasingly popular as a fashion choice.
Handmade pieces of jewellery give you something that you can cherish for years. You know that whatever item you have, nobody else in the world will have anything remotely similar. And that’s a special feeling.
All images courtesy of Pippa Small